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WHC Hosts District Auxiliary Conference

This year, the WHC Auxiliary was honored to host the District 1 Fall Meeting on September 23rd. Auxiliary members from Fargo, Valley City, Jamestown, Ashley, Minot and Wishek gathered at the American Legion for the conference.

The agenda included brainstorming for fundraising ideas, discussion, speakers and German cooking. Keynote speakers included Cindy Gall (RN, Wishek Living Center) on her mission trip to Haiti and Melissa Axt (former RN at the Wishek Hospital) on Anencephaly. Musical entertainment was provided by Bethany Tunheim (Accounts Receivable, WHC).

These Auxiliaries are dedicated groups of people who donate many hours to raise money to improve healthcare in their facilities. The Wishek Auxiliary would like to say a special thanks to late president, Jeannette Wald, who played an instrumental role in recruiting members and making the Auxiliary what it is today.

The most beneficial part of being on the Auxiliary is the feeling of giving back and being able to update supplies and technology that would not have been possible otherwise,” says Carly Jonas, WHC Auxiliary President. Their most recent purchases include ambulance pagers, televisions for patient rooms and a reclining lift chair.

Community members are welcome to join the WHC Auxiliary. Meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Wishek Clinic Conference Room. If you are interested in joining, contact Carly Jonas at 701.261.3331 or Sonja Graber 701.452.2421.


National Rural Health Day

Celebrate the Power of Rural”
November 20th, 2014

Rural communities are wonderful places to live and work, which is why nearly 62 million people (nearly 1/5 of Americans) call them home. But these rural communities have unique and growing healthcare needs. Today more than ever, they must address accessibility issues, a lack of healthcare providers, the needs of an aging population and larger percentages of underinsured citizens. Rural hospitals struggle daily as declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels make it challenging to serve their residents.

National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” by honoring the community-minded spirit that prevails in rural American healthcare while bringing to light challenges it faces.

The Reality of Rural Healthcare:

  • There are 4,118 primary care health professional shortage areas in U.S. rural communities compared to 1,960 in metropolitan areas.
  • Only 9% of all physicians practice in rural settings.
  • Rural healthcare centers are typically the economic foundation of their communities. Every dollar spent on rural hospitals generates about $2.20 for the local economy.
  • Only 24% of residents living in rural areas can reach a Level I or Level II trauma center within an hour, compared to 85% of U.S. residents who can.

(Information published on National Rural Health Day's website


Smiles for Life Fluoride Available at all WHC Clinics

Research shows that fluoride can reduce tooth decay by 25-45%. The Wishek Hospital and Clinics wants to reduce that percentage for children in our area by teaming up with the N.D. Department of Health - Oral Health Program called Smiles for Life to provide fluoride varnish to children. Smiles for Life services are covered by Medicaid and Healthy Steps and requires a minimal fee for commercial and private pay patients.

The Smiles for Life program, initiated in 2007 by North Dakota's legislature, allows health-care providers to assess oral health and apply the varnish to children through age 20. The purpose is twofold: to take preventive measures to protect children from cavities and to maintain their overall oral health.

All of our providers and nurses have completed the ND State Board of Dental Examiner’s training program through the Smiles for Life curriculum. The training allows them to administer fluoride when deemed necessary. Providers will also take the opportunity to educate children about the importance of brushing, flossing and caring for their teeth.

Children may receive fluoride varnish from both medical and dental clinics two to four times a year. Take action to help protect your children from cavities. Call your local clinic today to schedule a fluoride varnish appointment. For more information about Smiles for Life, visit


Doctor Placement Update

Due to the shortage of medical providers in rural areas, the need for teamwork and sharing talent between rural healthcare facilities is urgent. As of the end of October, our internal medicine doctors, Dr. Joseph Thirumalareddy and Dr. Thammi Vegiraju, will be alternating every two weeks between the Wishek Hospital and Clinic and the Linton Hospital. The Ashley Medical Center recently hired a full-time midlevel provider, so Dr. Vegiraju will no longer be practicing there. As we continue working closely with hospitals and clinics under the umbrella of St. Alexius Medical Center, we appreciate your understanding and flexibility.


Pediatric Health

Are my child's symptoms serious enough to see a medical provider? Does he really need to get vaccinated? What can I do to beef up her immune system? These are all questions you may have as parents. Here are some tips to help you navigate the health care system based on information derived from and Wishek Hospital and Clinic's PA-C/FNP Polly Benson.

1. Make a medical home.  Establishing a long-term relationship with a pediatrician or primary care provider is to your advantage. “Building rapport with a provider ensures someone who, when your child becomes sick, already knows your family history,” says Polly. While many people travel to see pediatricians, a local clinic like ours is a great place to begin establishing pediatric and family care.

2. Don't skip checkups.  It's important to keep regular checkups even when your child isn't sick. This way, doctors can make sure they are developing as expected and can catch any health concerns early. The WHC encourages regular well-child exams to evaluate their physical and mental health including growth and development, nutrition, behavior, sensory screenings, up-to-date immunizations, and parent education.

3. Keep vaccines up to date.  To immunize or not to immunize is a question commonly asked by parents. One thing is certain: diseases like polio and diphtheria have become rare in the U.S. due to the continuity of vaccinations.

“There is certainly controversy about immunizations,” says Polly. “I do think children need to be immunized, but there are people not immunizing their children because they have heard negative things about them.”

That's why Polly is an advocate for self-education, researching the facts before making up one's mind about medical advice. Immunizations for children range from birth to college-age children and are distributed by the County Health Nurse.

4. Don't delay care. When kids are sick, it can be difficult to determine if they need to see a medical provider. Ultimately, if you're unsure, “common sense is the biggest thing. Trust your gut and what you see. But if your child looks more sick than usual, it's best to come in,” says Polly who referred to “5 Serious Symptoms in Children Never to Ignore” found on for parents to use as a sounding board:

1. High Fever (child older than 1). “Don't look at the thermometer so much as their other symptoms,” says Polly. If your child is eating and drinking, skip the trip to the hospital. If the fever lasts four or more days and is accompanied by a sore throat or earache, bring them to the clinic.

A fever for children is defined as 100.4°F rectally or 99.5°F orally.

2. Bad Headache. Call your provider if your child's headache is so intense that they can't play, eat or enjoy a favorite TV show. If your child gets headaches often, this should be looked at by a provider.

3. Widespread Rash. To be safe, anytime your child has small red or purple non-blanching dots on a widespread area, lip/facial swelling or difficulty breathing, seek emergency care.

4. Stomach Bug. Monitor how often they are vomiting or having diarrhea. Vomiting three times a day simply calls for administering electrolytes at home, whereas eight bouts of diarrhea in eight hours needs medical attention for dehydration.

5. Stiff Neck. A stiff neck in combination with a fever, light sensitivity and headaches can indicate meningitis, a true medical emergency.

5. Check it out before you act on it. Health information is available now more than ever before thanks to the internet. “There is reputable and reliable support out there,” says Polly, “but there are also people with agendas.” Polly recommends parents frequent sites she trusts for guidance, like,,,,, and the “Healthy Children” app from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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